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BOOK REVIEWS 1. LETTERS BY FÖRSTER AND MASOOD Forster-Masood Letters. Ed. JaUl Ahmad Kidwai. Karachi: Ross Masood Education and Cultural Society of Pakistan, 1984. Rs 75.50 E. M. Forster's question in A Passage to India as to whether "God si Love" was the message of India stül seems relevant. Forster's correspondence with his dearest Indian friend, the one to whom he dedicated A Passage to India, appears subject to the same confusions and misunderstandings as the Anglo-Indian relations Förster depicted in that novel. JaIu Ahmad Kidwai's edition of their letters prints forty-eight of Forster's letters to Masood and thirteen from Masood to Forster. Of the fourteen letters to Masood pubUshed in Mary Lago and P. N. Furbank's Selected Letters of E. M. Forster, eight are missing from the edition of Mr. Kidwai, who complains that he could not get Furbank to show them to him. Mr. Kidwai says he supphed copies of Forster's Masood letters to the editors of Forster's letters, but Mary Lago's Calendar of the Letters of E. M. Forster (Mansell, 1985) does not list five of the letters printed in Forster-Masood Letters. The edition of Forster's and Masood's correspondence is quite elaborate with its eight appendices, nearly forty pages of notes, a bibüography, numerous photographs, and an extensive preface, but an abundance of typographical enors throws doubt on the reUabiUty of the published texts. The bookstore of BineU and Garnett is garbled into Benel and Garret in Masood's letters, for instance, and Levin of Anna Karenina charmingly turns into Lenin. Despite these problems, Mr. Kidwai's edition presents as fully as we can now know it Forster's and Masood's unusual and moving friendship. Some of the Forster letters to Masood not published in Selected Letters teU interestingly of his reading WeUs and Ibsen, and one written during the straggle to finish A Passage to India illuminates the relationship with Masood as weU as Forster's views on art and personal relations which he valued so highly: I seem to need you more than usual today. It is a year since Mohammed died and I have just had another blow. . . . Art seems the only true vent for our sonows and for the dissatisfactions that are somehow more painful even than our sonows. It alone redresses the bias against romance that runs through the material of the world. Personal relations succeed in this way less and less. It is my fault—not other people's. I bring less and less to them. You are the only person to whom I can open my heart and feel occasionaUy that I am understood. (23 May 1923) Masood's understanding of Forster is reflected in his letters, especiaUy the prophetic one written before Forster had even been to India: You know my great wish is to get you to write a book on India, for I feel convinced from what I know of you that it will be a great book. I do not wish to flatter you in any way but the fact is that you are about the only EngUshman in whom I have come across true sentiment and that too real sentiment even from the 219 Oriental point of view. So you know what it is that makes me love you so much; it is the fact that in you I see an Oriental with an Oriental's view of Ufe on most things. ... I say Go on Go on improving your imagination and with it your power of physically feeling the difficulties of another. . . . (20 December 1910) The letters of Forster and Masood reflect the deep affection of thenfriendship which the editor sternly insists was not sexual. Mr. Kidwai's outrage at this "dirty theory" is very old-fashioned: "Neither by ancestry, religion and culture nor by training, tradition and environment was Masood capable of involving himself in such a nasty position." Forster presumably was, but the editor is silent on this point. Elsewhere in the notes, however, he does not forbear to lecture Forster on the sacred order of the Koran or the real meaning...


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pp. 219-220
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